Milan Guenther: Intersection: How Enterprise Design Bridges the Gap Between Business, Technology, and People, Published by Morgan Kaufmann (2012) ISBN 978-0123884350 (330 pages).
Review by Peter Sjølin
The book “Intersection” by Milan Guenther is a fantastic book and it is a must read for Enterprise Architects with their Enterprise Architecture (EA) program targets to re-engineer their businesses in order to make them more agile and adaptable to the everchanging markets. The markets will change more rapidly and as a consequence most organizations have to re-think their design from a coherent perspective in order to stay competitive.
The core message of the book is that the organizations that face the intense form of competition can make use of the qualities of design-thinking (systems-thinking and especially hybrid-thinking) in order to become viable and adaptable, if the decision-makers apply EA and hybridthinking.
Guenther suggests that the modern organizations have to start working with design-thinking in aspects like the structure of the organization, products, communication, and environment and all of these issues would have to be dealt with in a coherent fashion. Guenther also introduces complexity theory, stating that complexity is a major barrier for any form of enterprise to mature and adapt to its market. In order to deal with the growing layer of complexity, Guenther proposes that the decision-maker should work with design-thinking:
“Fortunately, as the discipline grows and matures, more and more professionals realize that any enterprise that benefits from design at a strategic level has developed an understanding that goes beyond this limited view of a superficial afterthought.” (Guenther 2012, p.62)
With his design approach in mind, Guenther works with an assumption that an enterprise can be engineered to succeed, but this can only happen when or if the decision-makers prioritize design in the process of the strategic planning.
“A design-led approach can be employed to tackle any kind of strategic challenge, by generating a vision of what might be and lead the innovation efforts.” (Guenther 2012, p.63)
Guenther suggests that organizations can benefit from applying EA in order to design the enterprise from both a business and information technology point of view. EA can play a pivotal role in designing the organization for when the customers interact with the stakeholders in the organization’s enterprise.
Since the decision-makers would have to include various perspectives of the social system to ensure the needed level of innovation and problem solving, the organization would benefit from an EA program. Guenther defines architecture as stated in the quotation below.
“It represents the way an enterprise is constructed and functions as a consciously designed, man-made sociotechnical system.” (Guenther 2012, p.105)
The design of products and services are core elements for any form of enterprise according to Guenther, and as such he proposes a theory that organizations have to start planning holistically in order to compete for the customers in the future markets. Guenther is of the opinion that holistic-thinking starts with the combination of design-thinking and hybrid-thinking since the focus of the holistic enterprise would be on the design of the experience of the customers.
“Hybrid-thinking expands on the ideas of design and systemsthinking, both as the starting point for a challenge and as a focal point of any outcome. It is based on empathetic, intuitive thinking to create meaningful human-centric experiences.” (Guenther 2012, p.53)
Guenther works with a theory that deals with the technologies from now on will be more humanized and in this context the decision-makers would have to move away from using reductionist management approaches for dealing with the problems that organizations have to deal with while working on developing products, servicing the customers, and communicating with external stakeholders. His views are expressed in the quotation below:
“They employ technology for streamlined operations and information exchange, while at the same time listening to people and adapting to their needs. While information technology plays a vital part in such settings, it seems to have significantly shifted its role.” (Guenther 2012, p.27)
Guenther proposes a theory that design-thinking and systems-thinking have to be combined into hybridthinking that will enable adaptation to the ever-changing conditions of the market of which it operates. In part of the hybrid-thinking is EA as a concept since it would bring the decision-makers a needed overview of the enterprise and likewise can hybrid-thinking be put into practice by installing the right people who can bridge two or more domains in order to facilitate innovation, change, and development.
“More than just bridging domains and translating between them to address complex relationship challenges, enterprises need to use the linked views of hybrid thinkers to generate visions of the future by asking “What if …?” questions as a starting point for purposeful innovation.” (Guenther 2013, p.56)
If this book has piqued your curiosity, a preview is available at IntersectionBook.com.
My book review can be summarized in three words: “Buy this book”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Sjølin is an Enterprise Architect at PFA Pension in Denmark.
Journal of Entperise Architecture